A group of best friends have become bored with their adult lives: Adam has been dumped by his girlfriend; Lou is a party guy who can't find the party; Nick's wife controls his every move; and video game-obsessed Jacob won't leave his basement. After a crazy night of drinking in a ski resort hot tub, the men wake up, heads pounding, in the year 1986. This is their chance to kick some past and change their futures - one will find a new love life, one will learn to stand up for himself with the ladies, one will find his mojo, and one will make sure he still exists!
There are really only two things I feel compelled to talk about regarding Hot Tub Time Machine.
1. The special effects are atrocious. Even the skiing scenes seem like a throwback to the days of poor CGI. But then you ask yourself, “Did they do that on purpose?” – Perhaps!There’s a serious question as to whether or not the makers of this film were going for the cheesy CGI effects as a parody element. The parody element is plausible because the film itself is more than partially a spoof of classic 80’s teen comedies like 16 Candles, Better Off Dead, Weird Science, etc. Many of which, appropriately, featured the good work of a very young, very funny, John Cusack. But it’s also possible they just didn’t have the budget to smooth out the green screen effects – who knows?
2. If you lived through the 80’s and/or know a lot about 80’s genre teen movies, you’ll probably see the humor in Hot Tub Time Machine.
Anyway, Hot Tub Time Machine does a lot of things. It gets a little coarse in places, a little thin (plot-wise) in others, but one thing it doesn’t do, is take itself too seriously.
Even though they mischievously dabble with serious subject matter like middle-aged social failure, divorce, lost aspirations of youth, and suicide, they refuse to avoid the obvious humor of them.
Seeing the 80’s hairstyles, and fashion re-constituted, and hearing the 80’s music replayed in the soundtrack simultaneously makes you smile and makes you feel thankful that the trends have passed into (hopefully) oblivion. The only thing that I would have loved to see would have been John Cusack breaking the fourth wall – doing his now classic Say Anything, Lloyd Dobler, trench coat, boom box pose in front of some girl’s house. When I saw him wearing a similarly-styled trench coat, three-quarters of the way through the movie, my comedy heart almost leapt.
Without worrying seriously about things like time-continuum continuity, plausibility, or the moral irresponsibility of changing the future, Hot Tub Time Machine delivers a mildly-bawdy, mostly funny spoof on 1980’s pop culture and 2010 adult angst.
With that, I’ll leave you with my favorite 80’s movie quote from 1989’s Say Anything starring John Cusack:
Lloyd Dobler: I got a question. If you guys know so much about women, how come you're here at like the Gas 'n' Sip on a Saturday night completely alone drinking beers with no women anywhere?
Joe: By choice, man!
(Review by Elbow Murderpants from Bien Agiter!)